Ray Anderson: The Business Logic of Sustainability
Proof That Sustainability Makes Business Sense
Ray Anderson has led by example. As founder and chairman on Interface Inc., he grew his company into one of the world’s largest suppliers of modular carpeting through the awareness and application of an increasingly sustainable business strategy (their aim is zero waste). The switch to sustainability was certainly profitable, and a real win for himself and his company. As Mr. Anderson explains, business and industry have played the largest role in harming the environment, yet they also represent the size and scale best suited for providing solutions and amending the harm done to the natural world. It comes down to a matter of understanding. He discovered this for himself as he learnt more about what sustainability meant, and is happy to share this revelation.
Leading by Example
Anderson has demonstrated through his work that caring for the natural world and maintaining a company’s profitability need not be mutually exclusive. He is living proof that a CEO can make significant steps towards transforming a company to incorporate greater sustainability. Environmental awareness and appreciation for the larger economy (see What is The Circular Economy?) can remain profitable! In fact, contrary to myth, sustainability is an effective tool for bringing down costs.
There’s a widespread belief that doing the right thing in business will somehow cost more. Interface‘s operations have proven that notion false. Adopting sustainability was transformational for his company. Indeed, Anderson did not originally start out his business with this approach (he admits to not even knowing what that meant at the beginning). Rather, this metamorphosis came about as a result of a customer inquiry into his sustainability intentions. Not knowing much about it, he read Paul Hawken’s The Ecology of Commerce, and was inspired. The resulting sustainability strategy helped him cut costs, motivate employees, encourage innovation, increase customer appreciation, and be better stakeholders in the community. Having seen the positive outcome, Anderson is all too happy to share. Sustainability is profitable in every sense of the word.